Ingredients (serves 3-4)
1. Prepare your vegetables; halve your mushrooms (unless you already chose diddy ones), chop your carrots into ¼ inch sticks, and segment your red onion into 8ths(ish). Chop your broccoli into golf ball sized bits and don’t use too much stalk. Don’t worry about cooking them beforehand; as long as your bits aren’t too big they’ll cook perfectly in the fryer.
2. Get your oil on to boil, it doesn’t really matter what oil it is that you’re using, but you want it about 2 inches deep. I like rapeseed personally, it’s marginally better for you, although if you’re making this then presumably that’s not your greatest concern for the evening!
3. To make the batter, mix the flour, baking powder and salt and create a well in the centre for your egg.
4. Slowly mix the egg into the mixture, adding the water a little bit at a time so that you get a smooth mixture. If you just whack it all in at once it will be really lumpy.
5. Add the veg to the batter mix and make sure that they’re evenly covered before transferring them to the oil. Don’t put them all in at once and do make sure you spread them out a bit or you’ll end up with them all in one big lump. A couple stuck together is fine but you don’t want the lot like that.
6. Turf them out onto some kitchen roll to absorb the worst of the oil and then transfer them to a plate.
7. Serve immediately, they’ll go soggy and naff if you let them get cold.
This is a real favourite of mine, although the first time I’ve ever made it myself. When I was living in Thailand my very good friend Ngan, who lived over the road and ran a bar which essentially became my sitting room, used to make it for me. You can serve it with sweet chilli sauce, nam phrik (more on that another day) or any manner of nice dipping things, but my personal favourite is Sriracha hot sauce (which you can get in most supermarkets these days) because that’s what I always had at Ngan’s. Also, since being in Asia I have become a fan of things that are hot enough to melt your face off. If that’s not your bag I’d stick to sweet chilli.
One thing I would say about making tempura vegetables is don’t for one second think about doing them for any sort of swanky dinner party evening. If you are cooking them for any more than two people then I promise you that your kitchen will look like someone threw a batter bomb in there and ducked by the end. You’ll need a little production line of batter mix to pan to paper to plate, and since they cook so fast and have to be served immediately you won’t have time to be precious about keeping clean as you go. Queue dribbling batter across your counters and crispy bits of it flinging all over the place. Or maybe that’s just me! I happen to think a kitchen that looks like something exploded in there usually means you just made something yummy – which if you follow this recipe you will.
Of course you can get away with this if you have a closed kitchen policy, that way you can sweat and swear and fling batter around liberally, before quickly checking that you don’t have any on your face and swanning out to your waiting friends with a big plate of something marvellous. Just remember to make sure the door shut firmly on the carnage behind you.
Ngan and me and batter mix...